Djeneba Nayete – My School Choice Story

I can remember the night my mother received the letter confirming that I was a recipient of the Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia (CSFP). It had been a hard time for my parents. My middle brother was very young, and my mom had yet to begin work as a home health aide. My parents were trying their best to make bills and tuition. That night, upon receiving the letter, my mother cried. She told me that things just got a little easier, and that I would continue to go to school at west Philadelphia’s St. Francis de Sales. A school that I had come to know and love.

Although I was only in fourth grade at the time, receiving the scholarship opened doors that would lead to many opportunities years later. Not only was I able to finish school at St. Francis,  but I also gained an opportunity to take the scholarship test at West Catholic Preparatory High School. I received a partial academic scholarship helping my mother afford yet another well-known and academically advanced school. While at West Catholic, I developed leadership skills through the various clubs that I participated in and gained lifetime friendships. I never felt deprived, although I knew my parents were always doing the best they could for me and my siblings.

Attending West Catholic helped pave the way for my younger siblings to pursue a higher education. Because of my academic achievements, I received the founder’s scholarship and other grants to attend La Salle University, where I am currently a full-time student. As a senior studying public health, I have been on the dean’s list several times, and I am also heavily engaged in various volunteering opportunities.

As a CSFP recipient, I was able to attend a high school where I received vouchers for the SAT. I gained resources that helped me get accepted into the eleven colleges and universities that I applied to as a senior. Even more, with the help of CSFP my mother was able to afford not only my tuition, but also the tuition of my three younger siblings, something that she otherwise would have not been able to afford.

Traveling to Washington, D.C. and visiting Capitol Hill with the other Young Alums, gave me the opportunity to tell my story. I was able to share my story with legislatures of just how far I’ve come with the help of CSFP. I saw the significance of telling our story to legislators. They needed to see the real products of the school choice programs all over the country, how much they’re needed, and how many more students can benefit.

I am a direct product of school choice – and there needs to be many more!